A Review of PEI Wild Blueberry Growers' Association AGM 2024 and WBPANS Spring Information Meeting

Thursday 11 April 2024

The ATTTA Team was busy last week attending meetings for Atlantic wild blueberry associations. Last Thursday, April 4th, ATTTA attended the PEI Wild Blueberry Growers’ Association annual general meeting in Charlottetown, PEI, where the team gave a program update and engaged with PEI blueberry growers and beekeepers. Following that, on April 5th, ATTTA was pleased to attend and present at the Wild Blueberry Producers’ Association of Nova Scotia spring information meeting in Truro, NS. Read this week’s blog to learn the highlights of both blueberry meetings.

A Review of PEI Wild Blueberry Growers’ Association AGM 2024

The PEI Wild Blueberry Growers’ Association held their annual general meeting last week on April 4th, where there were approximately 60 industry members in attendance. The meeting started with a market update from Gilbert Lavoie (Forest Lavoie Conseil). Lavoie discussed wild blueberry production, inventory, supply, sales, importing and exporting, and prices for both Quebec and the Maritime provinces. In the Maritimes, there was 126 million lbs. of wild blueberries produced in 2023. The price of frozen wild blueberries has dropped sharply ($1.45 per lbs.) due to the inventory of frozen blueberries remaining so high this past year. Lavoie discussed the strategy of the Wild Blueberry Association of North America (WBANA) to improve the market of wild blueberries, where there will be an emphasis on the value of wild blueberries compared to cultivated blueberries. There is also a need for both volume and price stability within the wild blueberry sector.

Amy Argentino (Fruit and Vegetable Growers of Canada - FVGC) discussed the work of FVGC, which is the national advocate for fruit and vegetable growers in Canada. Matt Ramsey (PEI Federation of Agriculture) discussed the challenges and opportunities for wild blueberry growers to lower their carbon footprint, and some of the incentive programs that are in place. Patrick O’Neil and Wade Dover (WBANA) presented on the history of WBANA and introduced Patrick as the new executive director of WBANA.

The ATTTA team was pleased to give a program update during the PEI meeting, where the team discussed their research projects for the upcoming field season. Cameron Menzies (PEI Department of Agriculture and Land) provided a wild blueberry extension report. The day concluded with the PEI Wild Blueberry Growers’ Association annual business meeting. Thank you to all members of the PEI Wild Blueberry Growers’ Association who helped organize this great event, and to those who work to support the wild blueberry industry of PEI.

Wild Blueberry Producers Association of Nova Scotia Spring Information Meeting

The ATTTA team was pleased to attend and present at the WBPANS spring information meeting on April 5th, where there were more than 100 industry members in attendance. The meeting started with a WBPANS update from David Harrison (president) and Peter Burgess (executive director), where they discussed the work of WBPANS for the past year, and the upcoming plans of the association.

Dr. Andrew Byers of the ATTTA Team gave a presentation on spraying best management practice around pollinators. This information is available in the recently published best management practices guide “Protecting Pollinators from Pesticides – Wild Blueberry”, which is available online. ATTTA intends to continue providing workshops and events around this best management practices guide, as this information is vital to beekeepers and blueberry growers in Atlantic Canada.

Hugh Lyu (Perennia Food and Agriculture Corp.) provided a wild blueberry management and production update for the Nova Scotia sector. Hugh discussed how winter conditions may have impacted wild blueberry crops, and most growers are optimistic about their crops entering the new growing season.

During the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture program updates, it was reconfirmed that the Apiculture Sustainable Health and Growth program, will be available in 2024, among many other beneficial programs for farmers.

The spring meeting concluded with a panel discussion on innovative on-farm practices. This involved a talk about the benefits of two step mowing (rotary followed by flail mowing); the benefits of using weather stations as a blueberry grower; and the advantages of various sprayer equipment. Thank you to all members of WBPANS who helped organize this spring meeting.

Reminder – The “Protecting Pollinators from Pesticides – Wild Blueberry” Best Management Practices Guide is Available Online

The ATTTA Team would like to remind blueberry growers and beekeepers that the best management practices guide “Protecting Pollinators from Pesticides” is available on the Perennia website: https://www.perennia.ca/portfolio-items/honey-bees/ in both English and French. The focus of this guide is on minimizing the impacts of pesticides on pollinators and is meant for all those involved in wild blueberry production.

Connecting with ATTTA Specialists

If you’d like to connect with ATTTA specialists or learn more about our program, you can:

visit our website at https://www.perennia.ca/portfolio-items/honey-bees/

Email abyers@perennia.ca